Ken Hartke

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I'm retired and living solo "out west" in the New Mexico desert. I've been an observer and blogger for years and usually have four or five blogs going but wrote for myself or for friends. A lot of it was travel stories or daily random postings -- but it was a good experience. Red Room allowed me to share things on a wider scale and with its demise, I (maybe) found a more public voice.

Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead?

 

Burn scars are hard to erase. They leave
lasting evidence of trauma and despair.
And yet -- I can't stop looking at them.
When will they heal?  Will I ever see it?

 

How many years have I watched and waited?
Is there a flicker of hope?  Fire destroys.
In the forest, fire also brings rebirth.
It just takes so long.

 

There's a spark of life here. There's some color over there.
The Pines are gone but the Aspens know what to do.
They are survivors with roots that protect the future.
Fire is what they were waiting for.

 

 

Why seek ye the living among the dead? But they never died.
I'm compelled -- season after season -- to seek the living.
The wounds are healing but it's not the same as before.
But there are some rewards for those who wait.

 

The Elk are back and know that the forest will return.
It may be stronger than before if given a little time.
On Autumn days it is a sight to behold.
Especially on this cold, cloudy day sputtering snow.

 

Burn scars are hard to erase.
The Jemez Mountains show muscle and bone
beneath the scar of the old forest. Now a new
and beautiful skin brings life among the dead.

                                                                            

The Home Place — 2018

 

 

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
Spare and beautiful, Ken.
Saturday, 20 October 2018 00:32
Ken Hartke
Thanks -- we've had so many fires these last few years. I hope this rebirth is happening elsewhere, too.
Monday, 22 October 2018 16:06
Rosy Cole
Fabulous post, Ken! So vivid! Always good to remember that destruction never has the last word. I'll tell you a secret... It was... Read More
Monday, 12 November 2018 18:09
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4 Comments

Dendrochronology

I'm always amazed at those slabs of ancient

tree trunks that show how time passes.

A seed fell and sprouted and took root.

Maybe in 1492 or 1215.

There was a drought. There was a fire.

There were good years and bad.

 

My ancient Juniper tree lives on at the back

of a my mostly unused piece of land.

Its age gives it a certain distinction.

How old can it be?

I named the tree Carlos Rey for it was surely

once the property of the King of Spain.

 

These trees grow slowly in the high desert.

They experience things that we never notice.

Once they get a good start, a toehold, they

can go on for centuries.

Carlos Rey was twig when Coronado and

the Franciscans camped just down the hill.

 

Other trees nearby show old jagged scars;

ax marks where a shepherd or soldier

stole a branch for firewood or shelter.

Even the scars are ancient.

Carlos Rey went unnoticed and unscathed.

Endurance and survival are the keys.

 

Carlos has seen good years and bad years.

I think we must be in what will be known

as bad years when some future scientist

ponders our age - our rings.

I see no small Junipers - only ancient ones.

The climate seems angry and uncooperative.

 

Life is precious. It has a memory to share.

There's a man in Sussex who counts the rings

of a Stradavari or a Montagnana or

a Matteo Groffiller.

With years of practice, and in the right hands,

the old tree rings sing with the voice of angels.

 

 

Recent Comments
Stephen Evans
You are so lucky to have such a venerable neighbor! I would love to make a tour someday of ancient trees.
Saturday, 28 July 2018 20:22
Ken Hartke
Sadly, people don't realize how old some of these trees are and just bulldoze their lots clean when they decide to build. The tree... Read More
Sunday, 29 July 2018 00:12
Rosy Cole
This is something I ponder a lot on my dog walks. Trees are inspiring. They are companions. They somehow convey a knowledge beyond... Read More
Sunday, 29 July 2018 17:08
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6 Comments

We Don't Say Goodbye

Some time ago I learned that a close friend's friend was killed in the earthquake in Nepal.

He was one of the climbers on Everest when the avalanche engulfed them.

He was a climber. He didn't have to be there. He was a visitor who chose that time and place; a once in a lifetime journey.

He was doing what he chose to do. One never knows.  We take risks every day.

We close the door. We don't say goodbye.

 

So, what does one do?

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." said Martin Luther.

 

 

Should we modify our behavior to avoid risk?  Should we hide in our house?

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying" says Woody Allen

 

 

No.  That is the last thing we should do.

"When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself" said the monk,  Shunryu Suzuki

 

 

We must go on about our business, always.  You have something important to do...do it. If not now, when? If you have something to find, chances are that it will find you.

 The Zen master Hui Hai said... "Search and you will lose it. Do not search and you will immediately find it. Stop and it will be right here. Run and it will not be anywhere." 

 

A few times in my life I have waited too long. I was waiting for something to happen...for someone to find me...to get ready for something that didn't happen.

I don't do that anymore.

"A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him." said Ezra Pound

 

 

 

 

*    *    *

Recent Comments
Ken Hartke
I may have posted this before -- I sometimes need to revisit it. I occasionally need to give myself a kick in the pants.
Wednesday, 13 June 2018 17:35
Stephen Evans
Sound advice Ken.
Friday, 15 June 2018 01:43
Rosy Cole
Much deep wisdom here. Thank you! To be honest, I'd rather never say goodbye... No matter what plans we have for the future, it... Read More
Saturday, 23 June 2018 17:02
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4 Comments

Sofia's Bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The village sleeps while a few coyotes
prowl and scuff through the alley
that passes for a dusty street.

They own the night. We are
only tenants here at the edge
of the desert; close by the river.

A light is on at the bakery,
as it is every morning in the
long hours before the first glow.

The coyotes are used to it. They
watch her quietly pass by each
morning as regular as the dawn.

Sofia is immersed in the day's
work. Everything is in its place
and ready from the day before.

The old oven heats; the chill fades;
flour in her hair; her morning routine.
Lumps become loaves or anise biscochitos.

The first oven smells are drifting
down the street before sunrise.
She stops for a drink of her coffee.

She likes her coffee strong and sweet;
flavored with cinnamon or cardamom.
She indulges herself at this hour.

Working alone, she enjoys this time of day.
She has a place here in this little village;
like the mortar between the stones.

She recalls her mother, with flour
in her hair, greeting the men on their
way to the fields with fresh bread.

She is ready for the day as she hears
the first sounds from the street.
She smiles and steps out the door.

*     *     *

2018 - The Home Place

 

 

Recent Comments
Jane Phillipson Wilson
This was the first thing I read this morning and it will stay with me all day. Thank you.
Friday, 18 May 2018 14:30
Ken Hartke
Thanks...I hope it stayed in a good way.
Saturday, 19 May 2018 17:04
Rosy Cole
I just love this, Ken. As appealing to the senses as a painting. Thanks :-)
Sunday, 20 May 2018 13:44
742 Hits
4 Comments

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I wish British mothers did, too. Although I suspect that in Paris, too, this is a relatively rare o...
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So evocative - I wish American mothers would take their children to Moliere.